Church masterpiece 'restored' as Mr. Bean would do it
Pictures provided by the Center for Borja Studies show the original version of the painting Ecce Homo, by 19th-century painter Elias Garcia Martinez, from left, the deteriorated version the center recently documented, and the version "restored" by a parishioner.
August 23rd, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Church masterpiece 'restored' as Mr. Bean would do it

The efforts of an elderly parishioner to restore a 120-year-old fresco on a column inside a Spanish church have some wondering if a Mr. Bean movie was the inspiration for the effort.

The fresco, titled Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), is a depiction of Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns. It was painted on a wall of the Sanctuary of Mercy at Borja, near Zaragoza, Spain, by artist Elias Garcia Martinez more than a century ago.

Its troubling "restoration" occurred after the local Center for Borja Studies received the donation of a canvas done by Garcia from one his granddaughters who lives nearby, according to the center's blog.

Center staff noted that the only other known work by Garcia in the area was Ecce Homo, went to the church to photograph the fresco, and realized it was in bad shape.

Parishioner Cecilia Giménez said she was asked by the church to fix things up.

“The priest was aware … he knew,” she is quoted as saying in a report on “Of course I did it because I was told to do it."

In its blog, the center expresses "astonishment" that "an intervention was done" on the painting.

"As unbelievable as it sounds, this is what remains of the work of an artist whose relatives still live in our city," the blog reads.

Giménez said her work was done in the open and nobody tried to stop her, according to Euronews.

"Everybody that came into the church saw me. I never tried to hide,” she is quoted as saying.

"Clearly, she has destroyed the painting," Garcia's granddaughter, Teresa Garcia, is quoted as saying.

The center says it doesn't know if the "restoration" can be fixed.

"We don’t know if this indescribable act has a solution, but there is no doubt that someone should adopt strict measures so that there is not a repetition of acts like this, which despite its intentions, should be strongly condemned," its blog says.

But in reader comments on the blog, some wonder whether the "restoration" is a repetition of a previous act, one from the 1997 Rowan Atkinson film "Bean."

“Something similar happened in the movie Mr. Bean. … It probably inspired whoever did this,” one commenter writes.

In the movie, Mr. Bean accidentally sneezes on the masterpiece "Whistler's Mother" and attempts a crude repair.

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The Ecce Homo "restoration" is arguably better than Bean's line drawing, and that might be just as well, because there's doubt that Ecce Homo can be returned to its original splendor. And at least one commenter on the blog sees a silver lining.

"I think that the city of Borja should conserve the painting in its current state," the person writes. "It could become a tourist attraction for the town.”

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Filed under: Art • Spain
soundoff (1,299 Responses)
  1. GodofLunaticsCreation

    If you ask me it's an improvement. They might as well be worshiping an owl man.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Remember your statement when 'your day' comes.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I will be in Valhalla with the All Father.

      August 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mihai

    couldn't stop laughing

    August 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hingedlwnb

    Ha! This is freakin' awesome!

    August 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pitt04

    I have one question.....did she miss her Zoloft?....I mean.....who would deface Jesus????????

    August 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. supchi

    finally some lively comments on CNN. I felt sad after reading the article but couldn't stop laughing after reading comments.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CrystalClear008

    Jesus got a new face plant. (sorry but I cannot stop laughing .....). On a serious note one should know his/her abilities.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Legacy

    Legacy – some of us leave a bigger mark on the world before we exit than others.

    Come on people, I love art as much as the next person – but some of the comments regarding this elderly woman are shameful. You are aging while you read this are you not?

    We don’t know this woman’s history; she may at one point in her life had a real talent for painting that was lost to Alzheimer’s. That may explain why she “thought” the priest asked her to do it. My father-in-law did all sorts of strange things while suffering with this horrid thief of common sense.

    I’m sorry it happened! But, I have to admit I got a good giggle out of this story.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe G

    I think it was nice of her to remove the crown of thorns.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • sipsen

      Especially since she replaced it with a nice warm, fuzzy hat.

      August 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdmann

      ROFL!! Nice warm fuzzy hat!

      August 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CrystalClear008

    Thanks to the lady ...Jesus got a new face plant. (sorry but I cannot stop laughing .....). On a serious note one should know his/her abilities. Wow there must be more people coming to this church now than ever before.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jose

    I love it!

    August 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe G

    Is it just me or did Jesus look like a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd?

    August 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Daq

    Poor thing. This woman had good intentions I'm sure. Thing is the priests probably couldn't stop her. Especially if they asked her to start. Women at my Catholic church would do anything for the church and the priests. The priests saw the hack job but were probably too afraid to hurt her feelings. It's hysterical, comical, and pitiful all at the same time. The comments are great too. I've been laughing for 2 hrs.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. doregroj

    Who is to say that the real jesus did not look more like the" new version" than the original? There are no pictures or description of Jesus anywhere, to my knowledge.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stephanie

    the funniest thing i ever seen, i laughed untill i cried at work, made my day

    August 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tian ti

      Stephanie, i totally agree that this is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time- I could not stop laughing the whole evening. A new caption should be written about how the new painting come about with the lady's name as the new artist. It is simply the best piece of art I know- can anyone remember a piece of artwork this entertaining?

      August 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thank GOD

    Where was Jesus when this was going down??????

    August 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      ....just left Chicago, and he's bound for New Orleans. Hey, hey.

      August 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
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